Family Theater

1311 Market Street,
Philadelphia, PA 19107

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Viewing: Photo | Street View

Contributed by George Quirk

Recent comments (view all 7 comments)

RickB on May 6, 2004 at 9:09 am

This theater opened as the Family Theatre in the late 1920s. By the early ‘30s it was already being described in print as a grind house. In the '50s it was staying open all night, and the Shore Patrol declared it off limits to Naval personnel. After a homicide in the theater in 1969, the police reported finding a number of weapons stashed around the auditorium, as well as large quantities of empty bottles and discarded food. Later that year the name was changed to the Apollo, supposedly to commemorate the moon landing.
The booking policy eventually shifted from last-run features to adult films. After the Convention Center was built in the area the Apollo’s location became more valuable and the building it was in was sold and demolished in the late 1990s.

kencmcintyre on January 18, 2008 at 7:28 am

This is a photo from the Philadelphia Architects & Buildings site. The quality of the photo is not the best, unfortunately. Since Frank Rizzo was running for mayor, as seen in the second floor placard, the shot may be circa early 1970s. The photo is from the Irvin Glazer theater collection:

kencmcintyre on January 18, 2008 at 8:00 am

I remember this theater from the early eighties. The area around Reading Terminal was pretty shabby at that time. It appears that there have been a lot of improvements since.

kencmcintyre on May 9, 2009 at 12:05 pm

This 1911 photo shows the Fairyland Theater at 1311 Market:

kencmcintyre on May 9, 2009 at 12:12 pm

This is the theater building in 1960. Unfortunately the bus is blocking the view of the marquee.

RickB on December 23, 2014 at 5:28 pm

In the middle of a 1972 story about Chicago’s lower-priced theaters, Dan Rottenberg takes a break to tell a tale about a visit to the Family. It’s completely in keeping with the theater’s reputation. Link; you may have to scroll a bit to center the page in your browser.

OKCdoorman on August 31, 2015 at 7:13 pm

28-year old mass murderer Howard Unruh so much enjoyed a double-feature at this theater of THE LADY GAMBLES and I CHEATED THE LAW on September 5, 1949 (both films had been in release for several months) that he stayed for three showings each, before walking along his neighborhood street the next morning and killing 13 people (Unruh was taken alive, incarcerated for insanity, and died in custody in 2009).

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